Dear Amanda, How can someone overcome the sadness of a friendship lost? There is a lot of advice for “relationship” breakups, but I recently lost a friend who I loved who just ended up hurting me badly.
Friendship breakup songs: Dar Williams “Beautiful Enemy” might’ve been about a lovers’ breakup but it fit a severing of friendship for me so well that I must share it.
One thing that I would do that might shift some energy is to have an out loud pretend conversation with the friend. Say everything you'd want to say to them in that conversation, imagine them answering back, in however way you want. Also if you Google ho'oponopono which is a Hawaiian forgiveness practice - I've had amazing results. As for break up songs of any kind - Billy Joel, And So It Goes is mine.
Probably wasn't what you had in mind when it was written but I've been listening to Necessary Evil to drag me through grieving a years-long friendship that I dearly miss. And then there's Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd and Misguided Ghosts by Paramore and Operator by Jim Croce... I think I need to put the friendship grieving songs in one playlist instead of making another playlist for each friend I lose because the playlists are getting hard to sort through lately.
Zoe Boekbinder - What Have I Done
Great question, helpful reply.
This has been the narrative of my 20s.
Please, anyone who is reading this, seek out James Blake’s brilliant new album titled (none other than!) “Friends That Break Your Heart”.
All tracks are brilliant. All lyrics are therapy. If you need to hear it, you can pretty much guarantee that James Blake will say it to you.
An excerpt from the titular track:
“All of that pain
& nothing gained in the end
In the end, it was friends
It was friends that broke my heart”
(Amanda, Jameela Jamil produced on the album!)
Love, as always xxx
I am working through a friendship break-up too. A ride-or-die friend who turned out not to be able to handle even mild distress from me over my divorce. Yay.
“I know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers.
I may have played “I’m looking through you” by the Beatles on repeat in college over a friend break up.
For the playlist: My Beautiful Friend by The Charlatans; The Way It Goes by Gillian Welch; The Way It Will Be by Gillian Welch.
I had a dear friend who, in the depths of my depression, I hurt deeply. It's been something like 12 years now, and there's almost never a day I don't regret hurting her. That I don't regret freezing her out. It's taken me a great deal of time to accept that she doesn't want to reconcile, to fully take on the burden of the fault in destroying what was, probably, the best friendship I've ever had since.
If I'm being honest, though, an equally difficult part of that relationship is that now, I don't form close relationships anymore. I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to bring them close to have them hurt me. I've spent a lot of those last 12 years building up walls around that little friend cemetery. I'm split 50/50 on whether or not that's a good thing. But most days, I ache for relationships, for closeness, for a group chat going wild at 2 AM, for people to see and places to go.
But then I think about that friend--and the other friends I hurt with my depression, and just being the person I am/was. It's not worth the possibility of hurting them. Or is it? I don't even know anymore.
For friend breakup songs, I have to recommend SKYPE TOMORROW from the *wonderful*, stunning, criminally underrated musical WE ARE THE TIGERS by Preston Max Allen.
This one hit close to home, great read. Eager for the sister column. Flesh Without Blood by Grimes is a very good friend breakup song.
I will have to finish this in the morning, but it has already made me cry so much. I lost a friend years and years ago. And I never really recovered from it. I realized that I was never good at making friends. People always just roped me in, somehow. But that was back in high school. I’m in my mid 40’s now, so nobody really does that anymore. But I’m no better at making friends now, then I was over 20 years ago. And I feel like it also makes my intimate relationships more difficult, because I’m more alone and probably more needy. So it has just left me feeling so much more alone and vulnerable. So yes, friend breakups are a really big deal, sometimes life changing for some people.
This isn't a specific "friendship breakup song" recommendation, but me and a close friend co-run a project aimed at people on the aromantic spectrum (people who don't experience romantic attraction/experience low or varying levels of romantic attraction). Every week, people can submit songs they associate with aromantic experiences - including songs about friendships and friendship breakups. My friend then compiles all those song recommendations into playlists that are available on Spotify. You can check them out here: https://open.spotify.com/user/iai348au60imxiisoo3h4r46k?si=06cd7612153449f1
I was just thinking about this the other day. I had a group of friends that I hung out with constantly for many many years. They got into drugs and would treat me poorly because I didn’t do them with them. They were very into surrounding themselves with attractive people. I was once what some would consider attractive. At least on the outside. I was just as toxic as them until I became medicated for my mental illnesses and went through intensive therapy.
That medicine I talked about made me gain weight. And I was very insecure about it. Those friends who I thought were my closest and dearest friends started treating me like crap. And that was around the time they started doing drugs and I didn’t participate so I always felt like an outsider when they would go to the bathroom and do their thing.
I eventually had to cut them out of my life. I felt like I was losing a big chunk of my friend circle and a piece of my life. But I soon realized a part of me that felt insecure and out of place finally felt free and happy. They had been dragging me down for so long that I felt a huge part of anxiety lifted off my shoulders.
I try to look back on the fun times and not the bad times. But sometimes it is good to reflect on the bad times so that I remember why I had to stop being friends with them. I miss them dearly and all the good memories we shared and I will always cherish the memories of them before they changed.
My two worst breakups are friend break ups. Even my first love I thought I was going to marry a few years ago doesn’t come close to the girl who printed out adoption papers for my Birthday one year so she could (unofficially) be my older sister.
Anyway “Loser Wins” by Atmosphere is a great song for when you’re feeling angry about this shit.
Friendship breakups cut so much deeper than romantic ones don't they? We tend to open up parts of ourselves we don't with anyone else, we are more vulnerable, we can cut each other deeper... but... we also tend to be gentler, more flexible, more forgiving. (Perhaps there is a lesson in there too) So when those relationships finally do break (and in my experience that takes ALOT) boy it fucking cuts deep, especially when you know things "could" have different if not for that pesky demon that is addiction.(ahh the grief of what could have been!)
Sometimes friends come back to us and sometimes they never do, sometimes the hurt is too deep. Your hurt and anger is valid but I think the only way to move forward is to keep the flame burning for the part of the person you loved.. keep them in your prayers/chants/wishes/whatever.. let them go with with love.
OMG! " Bells for Her" by Tori Amos is my goto at the friendship graveyard. You'd nail.that song..the piano is haunting and killer.
Years ago now I lost a friend. She was one of my nearest and dearest, but she tended to disappear into drama and flakiness every time there was a new man in her life. It was exasperating, to say the least. But then she found a man that she was even more spun out on than usual, and she used it as an excuse to leave me and my whole family hanging one night, and when she finally showed up at the door with him in tow uninvited, I just snapped and yelled at her. And when I snapped he got in my face, in my home which he had entered uninvited, trying to defend her, and it was...ugly.
I ended up writing about it, without names, but she felt outed and betrayed and I felt righteously protective of my right to speak my truth. When you feel righteous about anything, that's probably a red flag that YOU have some work to do. But I didn't get that then and for my own sanity I released her to do whatever she was going to do with this man. Which ended up involving getting pregnant, marrying, and then surviving an ugly, somewhat public divorce. And I'll admit (this was years later) that I heard about it and felt a small, ugly tug of "I told you so". It was that tug that kept me from reaching out an olive branch, because I knew that I couldn't do it with a clean heart. I was still harboring hurt and resentment, and she didn't need that on top of everything else she was dealing with.
You are right, Amanda, that there is much to be said for the open-hearted offering of an olive branch, but sometimes we just can't. Sometimes we can only send love and well-wishes in our hearts and finally let them go with some grace, instead of hurt and anger. But I think it counts.